Williams Launches Largest Fundraising Effort in College's History

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., September 13, 2003 — Williams College announced a campaign to raise $400 million, the most ambitious fundraising drive in the college’s history. After years of planning and a successful effort to secure $160 million in commitments before the public announcement, college officials and volunteer leaders launched The Williams Campaign before a gathering of alumni, faculty, staff, students, and parents in Chapin Hall.

“Williams graduates shape the world in profound and positive ways,” President Morton Owen Schapiro said. “To prepare future Williams students for the demands of leadership in an increasingly complex and challenging world, the college has embarked on a strategic plan to strengthen everything we value most in a Williams education.”

The Williams Campaign, a five-year effort, will support a comprehensive strategic plan to implement extensive curricular initiatives, add 30 new faculty positions, enrich students’ extracurricular lives, and sustain the college’s long-standing commitment to admit students regardless of their ability to pay. The campaign will also complete funding for the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, a new student center, and coordinate improvements to Sawyer Library and Stetson Hall to create a new home for the humanities and social sciences.

“In short,” Schapiro said, “we will be advancing Williams as a learning community, a place where students learn from faculty and each other in countless ways, inside and outside the classroom.” After a year of discussion, Williams faculty in 2001 brought forward extensive curricular initiatives, including an increase in the number of Oxford-style tutorials, which bring together a professor and two students for intensive discussions throughout the semester; a stronger focus on students’ skills in writing and in quantitative and formal reasoning through new course requirements; and a commitment to develop more courses that involve interdisciplinary teaching and real-world experience.

“The Williams Campaign represents an unprecedented partnership between the college and its alumni, parents, and friends,” said Robert I. Lipp ’60, chair of the executive committee of Williams’ board of trustees and campaign co-chair. “Because Williams’ endowment grew rapidly in the late 1990s, while our spending remained prudent, Williams has been able to begin implementing new programs through existing college resources. Funding the balance will require significant new contributions from those who share our vision.”

Early campaign gifts and pledges stand at $160 million–40 percent of the campaign’s goal. These include a $20 million gift from Herbert Allen ’62 to help fund the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, now under construction; a $12.6 million bequest from the late Frances McElfresh Perry to establish a physics professorship and support other initiatives within the physics department; a $5 million gift from Edgar M. Bronfman ’50 to support the extension of need-blind admission to Williams’ international students; and several anonymous gifts totaling $27 million. One of the anonymous commitments included a $1 million, multiyear pledge to the Alumni Fund æ the largest Alumni Fund commitment in Williams’ history.

“Any campaign depends on major gifts for specific projects and programs,” Lipp said. “Yet the cornerstone of The Williams Campaign will be the unshakable support of the Alumni Fund and Parents Fund. Together, these unrestricted contributions for current use will give Williams the financial resilience to absorb the ongoing costs of its new strategic initiatives without undue burden on tuition payers. All Williams alumni and parents — including those who make major commitments for specific initiatives — will be asked to support the campaign through more generous and consistent gifts to the Alumni Fund and Parents Fund.”

Williams’s last major fundraising effort, the Third Century Campaign, ended in 1993 and raised $174 million, exceeding its goal of $150 million.

In addition to Robert Lipp of Scarsdale, N.Y., the following trustees will serve as co-chairs of The Williams Campaign: Gregory M. Avis ‘80 of Palo Alto, Calif.; Paul Neely ‘68 of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Laurie J. Thomsen ‘79 of Concord, Mass.; and Williams President Emeritus Carl W. Vogt ‘58 of Potomac, Md.

The campaign takes as its rallying cry the admonition “Climb far,” words taken from the verse, familiar to all Williams people, inscribed on the campus’s Hopkins Gate.

“This phrase sums up so much of what is important about Williams,” Schapiro said. “Every generation at the college has refused to settle for things the way they were and instead tried to make Williams even better. This campaign is vital to our generation’s success at maintaining this great tradition.”